Fishing for Carp on surface tactics is one of the most exciting fishing opportunities English waters hold. One of the most attractive aspects of fly fishing for Carp has to be the price, coarse fishery day tickets are anything from £5-10 and you’re rarely more than twenty minutes from one! These waters are often packed with fish, and you can rarely go wrong with a few white Deer Hair flies and a loaf of bread to get the fish moving. However, I wanted to apply a few more of the fly fishing principles to Carp, looking to see if the sport can become more than just throwing bread at a lake full of fish.


 A lot of the time the fish are found in close, so the inexperienced fly caster won't have a problem reaching fish. That said, if you mess up your presentation then your chances will vanish quickly, so the ideas of good presentation and stealthy, delicate casting are key. I’ve often found that the larger fish hang out just beyond the main feeding area, so sound casting technique will serve you well for targeting bigger specimens. 

Stalking individual fish with stealthy casting makes for exciting sport.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this blog post is the fly choice. The whole taboo about using flies to imitate bread not being ‘real’ fly fishing is nonsense to me. If the fish are feeding on bread, and you successfully imitate a piece of bread then what’s wrong? It’s also a superb way of making fly fishing accessible to the masses. Fishing with bread flies is cheap, easy and often more appealing to the novice than chasing specimen trout in remote locations, and making this sport available to anyone who wants to try is what I’m all about. Oh and I forgot to mention, Carp fight damn hard.

The biggest fish of the day. This fish was making calculated circles around the lake, so careful stalking and a delicate, accurate cast was required to ensure a take.

However, if you’re an experienced fly angler you may want to put yourself up to a more challenging scenario. Catching Carp on natural patterns is a whole new kettle of Carp (*cough*) and can provide sport that is frustrating, rewarding and satisfying, and isn’t that what we fly anglers love? The flies I have in my Carp box are pretty interesting. A diverse mix of Bonefish flies, bread imitations, dog biscuits, terrestrials and even snails. 

A selection of Carp flies. From Bonefish patterns and Bread flies to Zig flies designed specifically for Carp anglers using conventional tackle.

Gear wise, I like to use anything from a 6wt (if you want a run around!) to a 9wt when targeting bigger specimens in tight spots. I’m actually using my Pike outfit, which utilizes a RIO shooting head (which really helps load the rod on a short cast), and the fantastic Redington Vapen Red which not only looks amazing but also sends accurate casts in heavy wind, and has the ability to corral a super charged Carp. This is all bought together with my Sage 2200 reel, a robust reel with performance that stretches far beyond its price bracket. 

A stunning little fish, with the chosen gear on display as well. 

I have to admit, it was hard to get the fish to take the natural stuff. I had to resist switching back to the bread flies so I could continue experimenting with the naturals. That said, the Atomic Ants attracted interest, but no takes. Perhaps when the weather warms and the fish begin to encounter more terrestrials they will switch on to these. The Snail proved hard to resist, and I put this down to the Marabou which seemed to waft in the water just teasing fish. 

This fish couldn't resist the snail imitation.


Coming full circle and back to the title of this article, will Carp be your new addiction? Or your gateway drug to the addictive pursuit of all species on the fly? I can assure you that it’s a great way to get into fly fishing, for its price and ease of fishing, but the opportunity to challenge yourself and diversify into other species as you gain confidence is very real. You should be aware that you will become addicted, fast.


** University Angler and associated authors, photographers and other media departments accept no responsibility for your new addiction to fly fishing, there is no cure. You have been warned **

High on Carp. There's no going back now. 

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